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Lockdown lexicon: the weird words that defined the pandemic

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Not only have 12 months gone by without us having anything to show for it (apart from a half-knitted bobble hat and an unhealthy dependency on Deliveroo), but the world has entirely changed around us. It’s almost impossible to imagine skipping into a shop without a mask, grabbing a tube handle without a thought or –shudder – kissing a complete stranger in a nightclub.

And, as the world around us changed, so have the words we use every day. So here’s a brief Covid dictionary for your future reference – not that you’re ever likely to forget the year that’s been.

‘Lockdown: the act of confining prisoners to their cells’ says Google. Pretty accurate, says me. We all laughed when that The Thick of It clip of Malcolm Tucker surfaced, foaming at the mouth at DOSAC HQ and proclaiming ‘it’s a f***ing lockdown right now. This is the f***ing Shawshank Redemption, right, but with more tunnelling through shit and no f***ing redemption,’ but the smile was soon wiped from our faces when we realised that was our life for the foreseeable.

Bubbles are fun! Bubbles are cute! Bubbles mean party bags and a slice of tray-bake and a bouncy castle! Wrong. Bubbles mean seeing one person outside your single household until you’re sick of the sight of them. If you and your bubble make it through the pandemic without one of you moving to zone 9 just for an excuse to not see each other, you’ve done pretty well.

If you thought lockdown itself was bad, just wait until you find out about quarantine. Formerly reserved for mysterious and tropical diseases and hazmat suit-wearing scientists, it now looks more like staying in your bedroom all day and emerging for a packet of Supernoodles. Not medically proven to help symptoms of Covid, but they sure are delicious.

12 Zooms a day? You might have Zoom fatigue

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The start of the pandemic looked a little something like this: 9am – Zoom to say hello. 10.30am – Zoom to sort out the day ahead. This Zoom lasts until 2pm, then you reconvene at 3pm to report back on your hour of work. A nice 5.30pm Zoom finishes off your day, then you meet for a 7pm Zoom for post-work drinks. For some mysterious reason, everyone got sick and tired of Zoom and now asks at every call; ‘could this have just been an email?’ Answer: probably.

1 metre? 1.4 metres? 1.5? 2? 1+? Who knows. Just keep apart from everyone you know and you’ll be ok, says WHO (not a direct quote, if that wasn’t clear). Oh, and don’t touch anyone.

If I told you a year ago that one day you’d cry tears of joy at being able to see 5 of your friends in a waterlogged London park whilst drinking lukewarm coffee from your Keep Cup, you’d assume your life had gone severely downhill. And you’d be right. It has.

‘It’s ok, we met up in a group of 23 but we all wore masks – except when we ate, drank, posed for pictures and when we wanted to speak to someone.’ Covidiot.

‘I don’t like socially distancing it makes me feel like I can’t connect with my friends.’ Covidiot.

‘I think the virus is basically just flu and we all just need to accept it.’ Covidiot. Get the gist?

You want to make a mojito but you have gin instead of rum, coke instead of soda water and flat-leaf parsley instead of mint- and thus, the quarantini is born. Basically a concoction of whatever you have in your cupboard, with mixed results (I would not advise trying the above recipe).

The furlough lifestyle

/ Adrian Swancar

Paid time off from your job and it’s actually illegal to check on your emails? Sign me up, you think. Fast forward six months and you haven’t got out of your dressing gown for four days straight, live on a diet of Shreddies from the packet and only watch reruns of Homes Under the Hammer. Don’t worry – as soon as you get back to the office you’ll be wishing for those sweet days of doing absolutely nothing.

If you thought getting dumped over text was bad, Zumping is far worse. Not only does it add to your endless schedule of meaningless calls (see above entry for Zoom fatigue), it also seems incredibly awkward. Imagine the horrible moment when you’re both reaching for the ‘leave meeting’ button, it’s completely silent and you’ve just been told it’s not you it’s them? A true horror story for the modern era.

Smug people will proudly tell you that actually, in pharmaceutical terms, efficacy is not the same as effectiveness. Technically they are right, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. Essentially, some folks like to argue about the efficacy of each vaccine, and to them we say be grateful and take what you can get.

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